ANTIGUA + BARBUDA

Adopted in 1967 to mark the achievement of a self-government. There was a design competition, which 600 local people entered.
COUNTRYAntigua and Barbuda
DishesAntiguan raisin buns
Time 2 hours
Effort 6/10
Rough cost £4
COUNTRY Antigua and Barbuda
Capital St. John’s
Population 96, 286 (199th largest)
Land mass 440 km2 (182nd)
Languages English (official), Creole
ReligionsChristian

THOUGHTS

The local cuisine of Antigua and Barbuda reflects the Caribbean, but also flavours from Jamaica and Trinidad. The cooking has spice and colour and is always fresh.

Mwara made Antiguan raisin buns, which went down an absolute treat on a Saturday morning. Bridget was unable to make something this week (sorry!) but is planning on at some point cooking ducana which is a sweet potato and coconut dumpling, boiled in a banana leaf. Yum!

RECIPES

Antiguan Raisin Buns

This week was really tricky as so many of the Antiguan recipes required specialist ingredients not readily available in rural Scotland! I am hoping that when we revisit the Caribbean, I will find a way of sourcing yams and banana leaves for dumplings, calloo for chop up and salt cod for stew, but it was a working week and time was limited, so I opted for these absolutely delicious raisin buns. The enriched dough did require the lengthy proving time to fully rise. Also, be careful with the moisture level of the dough. Depending on the dryness of your fruit, they will absorb some of the water during proving. If you add fresh coconut (I didn’t, but will next time), this will add moisture. Finally, I could not find any vegetable shortening and so used coconut oil (solid at room temperature) and it worked beautifully. If you substitute the butter for more coconut oil then these buns are vegan. 

These buns be eaten with cheese, but we had them fresh from the oven with a coffee for Sunday brunch and they were excellent just like that!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 3 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water 
  • 6 cups strong white flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 3 oz. solid vegetable fat (shortening or coconut oil) and 1 oz. unsalted butter OR 
  • 4oz solid vegetable fat to make vegan buns
  • 1 cup freshly grated coconut (optional)
  • 1 heaped cup raisins
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence or extract
  • About 3 oz. water 

Method

  1. Add 2 tsp of sugar and 1/2 cup warm water to a large bowl and stir to dissolve. Sprinkle in yeast, stir and leave to activate in warm place for 10 minutes.
  2. Add 5 1/2 cups of flour to a large bowl along with the salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Rub in shortening and butter.
  4. Stir in sugar, coconut (if using) and raisins.
  5. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in yeast and vanilla essence. Add the remaining water 1/2 cup at a time to form a slightly sticky dough. You may need more or less water depending on your flour, fruit and if you are using fresh coconut. The dough should be a little bit sticky but also able to be kneaded without sticking to everything! Once the flour comes together as a dough, sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup flour onto a clean work surface, turn the dough onto the work surface and gently knead for about 5 minutes. You may need to add a little more flour for dusting. The dough should be soft and springy and slightly sticky.
  6. Rub a flavourless oil (sunflower/vegetable) on the dough and transfer to a large bowl, cover with cling film or a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size. It really needs this time to develop flavour and a good structure.
  7. Flour a work surface and transfer the risen dough. Knead for 1 minutes then cut dough into 12 equal pieces and form in balls. Try not to have loose raisins on the surface of the buns or they will burn during cooking. Either fold them in or pick them off. Place seam-side down on parchment-lined baking sheets with adequate space between each bun.
  8. Cover with oiled cling film or a damp tea towel and let buns rise in a warm place for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  9. Preheat oven to 180oC.
  10. Brush buns with water, sprinkle with sugar and bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until nicely browned. The bottom when rapped should sound hollow. 
  11. Cool before serving.

Thank you and see you in Argentina! M + B

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